Benefits and Dangers with Oxycontin

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What is Oxycontin?

OxyContin (oxycodone) is an opioid pain medication sometimes called a narcotic.

OxyContin is a strong prescription medicine used when an opioid medicine is needed to manage severe pain enough to require daily around-the-clock, long-term treatment with an opioid when other pain treatments such as non-opioid pain medicines or immediate-release opioid medicines do not treat your pain well enough or you cannot tolerate them.

OxyContin is not to be used on an as-needed basis for pain that is not around-the-clock.

 

Uses:

This medication is used to help relieve severe ongoing pain (such as due to cancer). Oxycodone belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.

The higher strengths of this drug (more than 40 milligrams per tablet) should be used only if you have been regularly taking moderate to large amounts of opioid pain medication. These strengths may cause overdose (even death) if taken by a person who has not been regularly taking opioids.

Do not use the extended-release form of oxycodone to relieve pain that is mild or that will go away in a few days. This medication is not for occasional (“as needed”) use.

Precautions, How to Take This Medication

Take this medication on a regular schedule as directed by your doctor, not as needed for sudden (breakthrough) pain. Take this drug with or without food, usually every 12 hours. If you have nausea, it may help to take this drug with food. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about other ways to decrease nausea (such as lying down for 1 to 2 hours with as little head movement as possible). If nausea persists, see your doctor. Swallow the tablets whole. Do not break, crush, chew, or dissolve the tablets. Doing so can release all of the drugs at once, increasing the risk of oxycodone overdose.

To lessen the chance of choking or having trouble swallowing the tablet, take only one tablet at a time if your dose is for more than one tablet. Do not pre-soak, lick, or wet the tablet before placing it in your mouth. Be sure to drink enough water with each tablet to swallow it completely. Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor or pharmacist says you may do so safely. Grapefruit can increase the chance of side effects with this medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose, take the medication more frequently, or take it for a longer time than prescribed. Properly stop the medication when so directed.

Before you start taking this medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should stop or change how you use your other opioid medication(s). Other pain relievers (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen) may also be prescribed. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using oxycodone safely with other drugs. Suddenly stopping this medication may cause withdrawal, especially if you have used it for a long time or in high doses.

To prevent withdrawal, your doctor may lower your dose slowly. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have any withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, mental/mood changes (including anxiety, trouble sleeping, thoughts of suicide), watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, muscle aches, or sudden changes in behavior. When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.

Though it helps many people, this medication may sometimes cause addiction. This risk may be higher if you have a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol). Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Side Effects

Nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, weakness, sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, or drowsiness may occur. Some of these side effects may decrease after you have been using this medication for a while. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise. You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you.

To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position. You may notice an empty tablet shell in your stool. This is harmless because your body has already absorbed the medicine. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including interrupted breathing during sleep (sleep apnea), mental/mood changes (such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations), severe stomach/abdominal pain, difficulty urinating, signs of your adrenal glands not working well (such as loss of appetite, unusual tiredness, weight loss).

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including fainting, seizure, slow/shallow breathing, severe drowsiness/difficulty waking up. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Precautions

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: brain disorders (such as head injury, tumor, seizures), breathing problems (such as asthma, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD), kidney disease, liver disease, mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, depression), personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol), stomach/intestinal problems (such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection, paralytic ileus), difficulty swallowing, difficulty urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate), disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis), gallbladder disease. This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy.

Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.

Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis). Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, and slow/shallow breathing. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed.

It may harm an unborn baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. (See also Warning section.)This drug passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Tell the doctor right away if your baby develops unusual sleepiness, difficulty feeding, or trouble breathing. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Personal Note:

The main reason I am writing this article is because of the dangers of misuse of this highly addictive drug. Almost every day I either hear or read about people dying due to the illegal use of this drug. Drug dealers are mixing this drug with other toxic chemicals to increase their quantity and profits with a total disregard for human life.

How Is This Drug Abused

OxyContin abusers either crush the tablet and ingest or snort it or they dilute it in water and inject it. Crushing or diluting the tablet disarms the timed-release action of the medication, but crushing OxyContin in this way can give the user a potentially fatal dose.2In 2010, the FDA approved a new formulation of OxyContin to prevent such tampering. The drugmaker, Purdue Pharma LP, made changes so that breaking up the tablet does not immediately release oxycodone. Also, if someone attempts to dissolve these new tablets for syringe injection, the liquid becomes gummy. Despite these measures, the FDA continues to admit that abuse and misuse of OxyContin remain possible.

Oxycontin

Further, there is an increase in OxyContin abusers who are turning to heroin because it is a significantly lower-cost opioid. According to a 2013 study, nearly 80% of American heroin users reported misusing prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin before they were introduced to the illicit street drug.3Some of the street names for OxyContin include Oxy, O.C., Cotton, kickers, Ox, OCs, beans, rushbo, Orange County, killer, and hillbilly heroin. It is frequently mispronounced and misspelled as “oxy cotton.”

It’s the high content of oxycodone that makes OxyContin popular on the street. People who abuse the drug crush the tablet and swallow or snort it, or dilute it in water and inject it. This destroys the time-release mechanism so that the user gets the full effects of the narcotic. Users compare the high to the euphoria of heroin.

“What makes OxyContin dangerous is not only that it’s addictive, it can also be lethal,” says Drew Pinsky, MD, best known for his Loveline radio show. “It makes you feel you can tolerate more, but it can precipitate respiratory failure, especially when used with other drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines.”

“Medical professionals need to be educated about addictions,” says Peter Provet, Ph.D., president of Odyssey House Inc., in New York City. “A problem with addicts is they don’t like the pain of any kind. They’ve been medicating their emotional pain, physical pain, or familial pain. The addict is quick to ask for a pill, but sometimes we have to deal with our pain.

An estimated 1.9 million people in the United States are dependent on or abuse opioid painkillers and about 46 painkiller-involved deaths occur every day in the US, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Furthermore, people who abuse prescription painkillers are at risk for concurrent or eventual heroin due to the similar effects of the two drugs.

According to one study, people suffering from an addiction to prescription opioids were 19 times more likely to start abusing heroin in the year prior to the study. This may be due to the fact that heroin is more easily accessible and costs less than opioid painkillers, due in part to the 2013 tightening of controls on access to prescription opioids by the Food and Drug Administration.

Some Statistics

2020’s opioid exposure cases handled by US poison control centers had reached 18,354 by April, with most of them coming from California, Delaware, Texas, and Florida 2018, 808,000 people over the age of 12 in the US had used heroin in the previous year 2018, there were 67,367 deaths caused by drug overdoses (all drugs) e in the United States. 67% of them were caused by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl:46,802 were caused by opioids.

Among these:14,996 caused by heroin12,552 caused by natural/semisynthetic opioids3,023 caused by methadone31,335 caused by synthetic opioids other than methadone14,666 were caused by cocaine12,676 were caused by psychostimulants (methamphetamine, amphetamine, and methylphenidate)A fatal dose of fentanyl is approximately 2 milligrams or a few grains of salt.

Fentanyl is cheaper than heroin to produce with a greater profit margin. In 2017 the revenue from 1 kilogram of heroin was approximately $80,000, the revenue from a kilogram of fentanyl closer to $1.6 million costs of a kilogram of heroin was approximately $6,000, and the cost of a kilogram of pure fentanyl approximately $4,150. While overall drug overdose deaths increased by 4.1% between 2017 and 2018, overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids increased in 2018. In 2017, the overdose death rate in 2017 was 9 deaths per 100,000 and increased to 9.9 deaths per 100,000.

These overdose deaths were caused by synthetic opioids other than methadone such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol 2018, fentanyl and fentanyl analog overdoses caused 31,335 deaths marking a 1073.6% increase from 2,670 in 2011. Most illegal fentanyl comes from China, which announced tighter controls on fentanyl and related substances ANPP and NPP in 2019. However, fentanyl producers will always diversify.

In 2017, the US Drug Enforcement Agency discovered Chinese nationals associated with the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel had supplied an organization in India with fentanyl chemical fentanyl can be produced anywhere, unlike heroin, which requires growing conditions for opium poppies Counterfeit prescription medications increasingly contain fentanyl, with over 200 examples analyzed by the DEA in 2018Counterfeit ecstasy pills also increasingly contain fentanyl or methamphetamine.

Personal Note:

If for whatever reason you have been prescribed any of these drugs, know the dangers. In many cases, you may need medical help to stop taking these pain killers. Emphasis on the word killers.

Thank you for reading

Michael

Comments are welcome

2 thoughts on “Benefits and Dangers with Oxycontin”

  1. Hi Michael, 

    Thank you for this great article. 

    Many young men and women are dying every day because of the abuse of narcotics. This has become part and parcel of our society today and it about time we stand tall and address the negative effects it having on the individual involved, families,  society, the nation and the world at large. I believe when young men and women full know the dangers of misuse of this highly addictive drug, they will think twice before taking action . 

    I’m glad you took it upon yourself to address in the address. We need people like you to keep creating this awareness. 

    This is a great movement  from you. Keep on the good work. 

    Bless you.

    Reply
    • Hi Albright,

      Thank you for your insightful comments. In reading the statistics just in Canada, the opioid crisis has killed more individuals than COVID-19. This is a terrible tragedy. I just hope we are paying as much attention to this crisis, as we are to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Blessings my friend,

      Michael   

      Reply

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